ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Is Small Beautiful?


Recently, there has been a sudden eruption of swabhiman (Marathi word for self-respect)—not of the Periyar variety—in Maharashtra. First, the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna split and then a disgruntled Congress leader (Narayan Rane) left the party and formed a separate one calling it Maharashtra Swabhimani Paksh (MSP). These two developments are insignificant in themselves as both parties barely have influence in one parliamentary constituency each, but they draw attention to two different but interrelated processes that are under way not only in Maharashtra but also elsewhere. One is the continuous formation of new “parties” and the other is the ongoing fragmentation of larger parties. Both these processes have the same effect. They make party competition more uncertain and fluid.

Groups and individual political actors jumping the Congress ship is not an unexpected occurrence. In fact, the process has been surprisingly slow and halting. When the Congress party lost in 1996, many of its factions quickly left and formed separate parties resulting into fragmentation of the Congress in the absence of both the glue of power and the anchor of a strong leadership. Now, with the disastrous defeat of 2014, a similar prospect stares the party in the face. So far, although individual defections have occurred, no major faction from within it has come out to form a separate party. With Amarinder Singh (Chief Minister, Punjab) and Siddaramaiah (Chief Minister, Karnataka) being given adequate space at state level, the Congress may just have averted a more dramatic disintegration of the party so far.

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Updated On : 16th Oct, 2017
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